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Taylor and Nicholson family papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1215

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains the records of the Taylor and Nicholson families from the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries. Included within the collection are correspondence, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and photographs. This collection is divided into three series; “William Nicholson Taylor,” “Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor,” and “Collected Family Material.” William Nicholson Taylor spent 1916 to 1917 serving as an officer in the United States Military and collected material (including panoramic photographs) of his time. He also sketched architectural designs and cartoons. Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor was a noted writer and poet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, thus researchers interested in her work or Quaker women should consult her notebook and correspondence included in the collection. Additionally, researchers interested in these families would be well served searching through this collection, as one of its strength lies in the intimate correspondence written between family members.

Within the “William Nicholson Taylor” series are four subseries: “Correspondence,” “School Material,” “French Material,” and “Manuscripts, Scrapbook, Proposal and Newspaper Clippings.” The “Correspondence” subseries includes letters predominately written to his wife Christine de Brie Taylor, and his mother Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor. Also represented in this subseries are his letters written during his time spent in the military from 1916 to 1917. The “School Material” subseries contains a scrapbook related to his final year at Harvard, 1903. Additionally, the "Photographs" subseries includes three oversized panoramic pictures of military bases and officers from William’s time in the military during World War I.

The “Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor” series contains correspondence, a photograph as child, and a notebook. Included in her correspondence are letters to her sister, Elizabeth Whitall Nicholson, and husband, Frank Hendrickson Taylor. Her notebook includes drawings, photos, and notes on her sons and her work as a writer.

The “Collected Family Material” series is comprised of three subseries: “Correspondence,” “Photographs,” and “Photocopy, Pamphlet, and Miscellaneous.” Of note in this series are the Notes on Whitall Family which includes genealogical sketches of the Taylor and Nicholson ancestry, as well as the “Photographs” subseries which include pictures of various family members and the Taylor estate. The Miscellaneous folder contains unidentified pieces of paper that were found within the collection.


  • Creation: Bulk, 1869-1944 1810-1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1869 - 1944


Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Standard Federal Copyright Law applies (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical Note

William Nicholson Taylor was born on June 22, 1882 in Cincinnati, OH to Quaker parents Frank Hendrickson Taylor and Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor. He grew up at Linden, a family home near Haddonfield, NJ. Frank Hendrickson Taylor (1855-1934) graduated from Harvard and was president of the Westinghouse Electric Company. Rebecca Nicholson Taylor (1857-1944), a descendent of the Whitall family, is known for writing poetry, history and memoirs.

William Nicholson Taylor studied architecture at Harvard University. Following his graduation in 1903, “his interests were evenly divided between athletics, travel and art,” (Who’s Who Abroad). Spending a considerable amount of his adult life abroad, he studied at the American Academy of Rome and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1905-1910, receiving his Diplome d’Architecte. He also sketched cartoons throughout his life, and played Cricket internationally.

When the United States entered World War I, Taylor joined the Field Artillery Officers’ Reserve Corps as a captain. On May 15, 1917, he was called to active duty and sent to Officers’ Training camp in Fort Niagara, New York. By August 15, 1917, he was promoted to major. He was then assigned to the 310th Field Artillery, 79th Division in Camp Mead, Maryland and a month later, sent to the School of Fire in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His military successes continued as he was appointed instructor on December 21, 1917, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on July 28, 1918, and assigned to command the 29th Field Artillery at Camp Funston, Kansas. At the end of the war, Taylor was discharged on February 11, 1919.

Following the war, Taylor married Gertrude Christine Duret de Brie on May 15, 1919. The Taylors moved to France where Taylor served as general European Manager for the E.I. DuPont de Nemours Export Corporation, Inc. in Paris. Their three children were born in Paris: Constance Alix, born on July 8, 1921; Benjamin de Brie, born on March 15, 1923; and Marie-Celine, born on May 20, 1925. In 1927, Taylor became president of the American Chamber of Commerce in France. The Taylor family returned to the United States in 1936, living in Wilmington, Delaware, Norton, Connecticut, New York, New York, and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Taylor worked as an architect for George Howe.

During the Second World War, Taylor served in the 3rd Services Command, United States Army Office of the Inspector General. He died in Washington, DC in April, 1945.

Publications by Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor include: Songs of Hope, 1915; Small Adventures of a Little Quaker Girl, 1937; A Family History of the Residence of Rebecca and Sarah Nicholson, Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1917; The Wind Passeth Over It, circa 1925; Poems: Christmas Greetings, 1915; Earth People: and Other Verse, circa 1920s-1930s; What Our Work Is: And Why We Do It, 1897; and Memoir of Mary Whitall, 1885.


10.75 linear ft. (21 boxes and 2 rolled items in a tube)

Language of Materials



The Taylor and Nicholson family papers contain the records of these two families from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The two focal points of this collection are William Nicholson Taylor (1882-1945), and his mother, Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor (1857-1944). William graduated from Harvard in 1903 and afterwards spent considerable time abroad studying architecture. He also served as an officer in the United States Military from 1916 to 1917, and worked in diplomacy after the war. Rebecca was a noted writer and poet during this time period. The strength of this collection is the collected materials related to William’s time in the military, as well as his sketchbooks related to architecture and Harvard. Researchers interested in the works of Rebecca Morgan Nicholson Taylor or Quaker women, should also consult Rebecca’s notebook and correspondence. There is extensive correspondence between the various members of these two families from the 1880s to 1940s.

Custodial History note

Gift of Benjamin Taylor, son of William Nicholson Taylor.

General Physical Description note

21 containers and 3 rolled photographs

Processing Information note

The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.

Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.

Taylor and Nicholson family papers, 1810-1899, bulk 1869-1944
Finding aid prepared by Leslie O'Neill and Forrest Wright
November, 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.

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